What We Learned From Steven Soderbergh’s “Seen And Read 2017” List


One of the great joys of the new year is poring through Steven Soderbergh’s exhaustive journal of the media he consumed throughout the prior twelve months. There’s a lot to be gleaned from the journal - mostly the sheer variety of materials the director consumed, whether in print or on screen. You can read the full journal here, but we went through and found our favourite pieces of trivia, because we’re like that.

  • Steven Soderbergh rang in 2017 with Passengers, but leavened it with William Friedkin’s great adaptation of Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party.
  • The first movie Steven Soderbergh watched after Trump’s inauguration was 1990 John Le Carre spy thriller The Russia House. He also watched All The President’s Men three times over the course of the year (and Chinatown and The Third Man twice).
  • Steven Soderbergh watched Twin Peaks: The Return like all of us, and like many of us, rewatched Episode 8 (“Wow!”)
  • As you’d expect, Steven Soderbergh watched numerous cuts of films he was working on at the time: Ocean’s Eight nine times, Logan Lucky six times, and Unsane five times.
  • Steven Soderbergh first watched a cut of Unsane a mere two weeks after it entered principal photography. He watched The Birds the day before starting production.
  • Steven Soderbergh double-featured the original I Spit On Your Grave and Spielberg’s 1941, then watched 1941 again three months later.
  • Steven Soderbergh saw Fifty Shades Darker on opening weekend, but waited until after opening weekend to see The Last Jedi.
  • Steven Soderbergh watched his own black-and-white version of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • Steven Soderbergh watched I Love You, Daddy, way back in August.
  • Steven Soderbergh read “Cat Person” just like everyone else did, and even noted it in his log.
  • Steven Soderbergh watched the Emmys, the Oscars, the Superbowl, the Mayweather/Macgregor fight, and the Apple Special Event live. He also watched E! News Live At The Red Carpet Met Gala.
  • Steven Soderbergh writes feature film titles in all-caps, except for mother!.
  • In November, Steven Soderbergh watched Airport 1975, ‘77, and ‘79 over the course of five days.
  • Steven Soderbergh kept up with Silicon Valley, Better Call Saul, Twin Peaks, The Americans, Dateline, 48HRS, Girls, Billions, Veep, Mindhunter, SMILF, Wormwood, Transparent, Tracey Ullman’s Show, Black Mirror, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and The Vietnam War. He also watched the entirety of The Thick Of It. He did not watch Game of Thrones.
  • Steven Soderbergh’s movie marathons (3 features or more):
    • Passengers, The Birthday Party, Keeping Up With The Joneses
    • The Immortal Story, King & Country, Fifty Shades Darker
    • The Third Man, Unsane, Anatomy of a Murder
    • Beatriz At Dinner, Whitney: Can I Be Me, 1941
    • The Duelists, Tokyo Drifter, Ikiru, Vengeance Is Mine
    • The Tale of Zatoichi, Woman in the Dunes, Ocean’s Eight
    • Tokyo Olympiad, Olympia Part One: Festival of Nations, Olympia Part Two: Festival Of Beauty
    • Memento, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Vertigo
  • Steven Soderbergh consumed approximately 160 features, 7 short films, six plays, 50 books, and altogether too much television for a growing boy.
  • Steven Soderbergh saw out 2017 with The Parallax View, a film about a presidential assassination, closing a year laden with mysteries and spy thrillers.

Again: go check out the full list for yourself. It's...a lot.

Photo by Nicolas Genin, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.